Art by Autumn Hardwick
“I am excited to announce that I will be interning/working at …”
LinkedIn members often start posts with this phrase to announce their internships or employment offers. While these posts receive many positive engagements and words of encouragement from their connections, they raise the question: How genuine are these congratulatory comments?
For some students, LinkedIn can be yet another toxic social media platform. Due to this, students must not solely rely on LinkedIn when searching for jobs.
LinkedIn first entered the market in May 2003 with a mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful,” according to its mission statement. By providing a platform for its users to connect with each other, learn hard skills and apply for jobs, LinkedIn has established the world’s largest network of 740 million community members worldwide, according to its website.
When utilized to seek job opportunities, LinkedIn seems to be one of the best platforms, especially for those who already have ample professional connections.
The nature of this employment-oriented platform is to showcase appealing elements like a candidate’s alma mater, work experience and qualifications. LinkedIn members generally rely on these credentials to connect with other members who share the same or similar backgrounds or experiences.
Students tend to post their upcoming internship plans to notify and impress their connections. By doing so, they also have the possibility to receive recognition for their accomplishments and further connect with experienced business professionals in the industry.
That said, other users may not appreciate this information, especially if they do not have internships lined up. Due to LinkedIn’s nature, these conflicts are inevitable and can cause mental health issues. However, for students, that is not the case. Since most students have limited experiences in the workforce, they can encounter two major byproducts on LinkedIn: inferiority complex and imposter syndrome.
The concept of an inferiority complex explains that a person’s feeling of inadequacy results in the belief that one is not as qualified as others. Just like how other social media platforms such as Instagram can dictate students’ online presence, LinkedIn can also create a similar effect of feeling deficient for some.
Students may experience inferiority complex differently. Some may lose motivation to do school work while others may begin to have a pessimistic outlook on their post-graduate career. These feelings can stem from not having confidence in their own experiences because they compare themselves to others.
These conflicts can also bring up another problem: Imposter syndrome. This phenomenon occurs when an individual undervalues one’s own ability despite evident success. LinkedIn stimulates such a notion by giving off the impression that it is crucial to be hired by a top company to appear successful and employment is the most important thing after college.
Unfortunately, imposter syndrome is often enforced on LinkedIn because users are constantly exposed and compared to other users with similar credentials. In a success-driven society like the United States, this is a dangerous concept because high-achievers will never feel like their skills and accomplishments are good enough.
To combat these problems, student users should recognize that LinkedIn is another form of social media, just like Instagram. LinkedIn should not be treated as an app used exclusively for job hunting. It is important to remember there are many alternatives, especially for Pepperdine students.
Should students wish to search for jobs or internships, Seaver Career Center offers resources similar to LinkedIn’s job search engine but tailored specifically for undergraduate students, including Handshake and University Action Career Network.
For those who wish to connect with business professionals, PeppConnect and Career Coaching Program are some resources Pepperdine provides. These platforms allow students to connect with Pepperdine alumni and receive insightful career advice from them.
Evidently, students do not need to spend hours perfecting their online profile to find career opportunities. Instead, they should focus on building their resumes and utilizing more healthy, sustainable resources, such as those provided and recommended by Seaver Career Center.
LinkedIn serves as a reminder that the line between personal and professional life is blurred in the digital age. Just as what students post on Instagram does not portray their lives, what students see on LinkedIn does not portray their full business capabilities.
If used appropriately, LinkedIn can be a good resource. However, students with limited experience and connections must use it with care. Since nothing on social media is a full representation of a whole human being, students should not let the toxic side of LinkedIn determine their unique values.
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Email Sawa Yamakawa: firstname.lastname@example.org